Spring Man Who Coerced 9-Year-Old To Take Nude Photo With Handheld Gaming Device Lands Significant Sentence
HOUSTON – Spring resident Steve Correa-Franco, 33, has been ordered to prison for nearly 20 years following his convictions of enticement of a child and possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. He pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, took into consideration the seriousness of the crime and the need for deterrence and handed Correa-Franco respective sentences of 235 and 120 months for the enticement and possession convictions. The sentences will run concurrently. Additional information was also presented today, including a victim impact statement from the parents of the girl. In handing down the sentence, Judge Lake noted that the victim will carry the memory of what Correa-Franco did for a long time. Correa-Franco was further ordered to serve 25 years of supervised release following completion of his prison term. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
The charges against Correa-Franco arose in April 2012, when the Rochester, Minn., Police Department responded to a complaint regarding the possible online solicitation of a nine-year-old child. The responding officer met with the child’s parents, at which time the father told police he had noticed the family computer open to the website www.kidzworld.com and saw that his daughter had been communicating with someone. The father further investigated his daughter’s online activity and accessed her Yahoo! email account. In the account, he found extensive chat logs between his daughter and an unknown person with a Yahoo! Username of “Steve Correa,” later identified as Correa-Franco. The majority of the chat activity occurred on April 6, 2012.
During the April 6 chats, the girl told Correa-Franco she was nine-years old. He said he was 16 years old and repeatedly discussed having sex with the young girl. He also sent the daughter several photos of himself which contained images of his face.
Correa-Franco asked the girl to take a nude photograph of herself, which she did using her Nintendo DS handheld game system. She took the photograph with the gaming system, uploaded it to her computer and then emailed it to the address Correa-Franco had provided.
Law enforcement officers were able to trace the email account to Correa-Franco’s residence in Spring. On May 18, 2012, a federal search warrant was executed, at which time agents seized Correa’s laptop computer. Agents were able to confirm the images emailed to the nine-year-old were, in fact, images of Correa-Franco.
A forensic analysis of the laptop computer resulted in the discovery of 210 digital videos of child pornography, including the lewd and lascivious exhibition of the genitals of minor children and actual sexual intercourse involving a nude minor female and adult male. The nude image of the nine-year-old victim taken by her at Correa-Franco’s urging was also discovered.
Correa-Franco will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Rochester, Minn., Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."